Honey Pie and Hot Gossip

It's been a minute since I've had a big meal out at a place that's new (or new to me), so I haven't had a full review to plan for the blog. But I have been enjoying my break from paid reviewing by revisiting some old favorites and really enjoying dining again. It's kind of nice not to always be working when I'm eating!

One new-to-me spot I visited back in September was Gilda's, in Skaneateles. This place has been on my list for a couple years now, and it was lovely to finally bust inside her door and grab a seat at the bar with my friends to enjoy some day drinks and snacks. 

Even though Gilda's doesn't enjoy the stunning view of Skaneateles' busier, lakeside eatery Blue Water Grill, it makes up for it with a more relaxing, pristine interior, and much more fined food and service. 

We began our repast with prosecco and some lovely speck and arugula crostini.

This very simple starter was topped with grana padano cheese - mild and nutty, plus a little savory/sweet basil pesto. The speck (cured pork, like Spanish prosciutto) was salty and tender, sweet enough to stand up to the bitter greens. This was a satisfying small plate, and paired well with the dry sparkling wine.

The hot sopressata pizza was my favorite thing at Gilda's, and I've thought about it ever since. Along with paper-thin slices of the spiced salami, sweet tomato sauce, salty, aged mozzarella (with much more flavor than either the fresh, watery stuff or the drier, more solid bricks you make lasagna with), chile flakes, a little funky pecorino cheese were in play, plus honey. The honey made all the difference on this thin, seemingly simple but explosively flavorful, pie. It played with the sausage, sometimes letting spicy heat touch your tongue, but other bites cloaking that fire in its languid sweetness.

The thin crust was flavorful, but not a major player in the taste profile when it faced these boisterous toppings. Maybe pizzerias with inferior dough should think about spicy salami and honey as a CYA tactic.

Pancetta and fresh tomato topped the pizza special of the day, which we all split as well. It was good, but the flavors were much less complex than in the sopressata pie, which I preferred. With the fresh tomato plus tomato sauce, the overall taste her was fresh and light, the cured bacon kind of anchoring everything with its earthy salinity.

We didn't sample enough dishes at Gilda's to render a score, but if it helps, I will surely be back - and I have gossip! The people who own Gilda's are opening a Mexican restaurant soon on he main drag in Asian, and Thom Felicia, interior decorator extraordinaire from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (remember him?), who lives on the lake, is collaborating!! Yeah, that's right, this is a double exclamation point occurrence. BHS loves Mexican food and fabulous design!

Gilda's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

We grabbed dinner a few weeks back at Mr. Bigg's new location, downtown in Watertown. The space is lovely, and Eddy has clearly worked really hard to warm up the space and create some ambiance. I fear he's struggling, though, in this larger spot and without the built-in traffic the mall provided. While Eddy's flavors were still on point in the fried chicken and stew chicken we ordered - that spicy, savory stew chicken sauce is ridiculously good - the chicken itself was scrawny, tough, without much meat on the legs, which were the only parts we were served beside one very small wing. Look, I'm all about peasant food, but there has to be enough meat to make a meal, and neither of these plates had that.

The jerk pork, as well, was very tough. Again, the flavors were all spot-on, but the meats were probably a lower quality than one would prefer. I'm guessing that's to help make ends meet, and that's a shame. Starting with top notch ingredients is the first step in restaurant success.

I hate to report this, but the rice with my stew chicken was also majorly overcooked - all flabby and blown-out. Look, I have affection for Eddy, and I want him to do well. But I also can't recommend you eat there if the food isn't on point. It's a real conundrum. I'm hoping it sorts itself out, because I'd hate to see Mr. Bigg's cuisine disappear from the city.

Last weekend, after putting on the Miss Thousand Islands' Outstanding Tren Pageant at LaFargeville Central Scool, we hauled our tired cookies into Shuler's, on Watertown's Northside, for some grub from their comfort food menu. I had fretted earlier this year that maybe this palace of gravy and carbohydrates might not be faring all that well, but on this Saturday night, the joint was hopping.

Fried cheese curds? Check! These golden nuggets of blessed junk food were pleasantly salty, wonderfully chewy, and absolutely decadent dunked in the bright, sweet tomato sauce.

I also enjoyed Shuler's gooey, rich French onion soup. Behold, the cheesy goodness:

Need I say more? My chicken and biscuits were spot on, too, but much less photogenic. Rest assured, this classic Watertown family restaurant has still got all the goods when you need warm, filling, flavorful American food without a hint of complexity, fusion, or international influence. Just the basics, done right. Oh, and they've completed their makeover since I was there last - the dining room is refreshed and brightened up. So much nicer than the seventies den it once was!

In other gossip:

- Binghamton's The Night Kitchen has closed, and before I could make it there to sample its southern fair. Count me bummed.
- STIR's Fall Tasting Party is this Sunday at Traditions at the Glen. You should go!
- More sad news: Treasure Ice Cream and Cafe, in Endwell, has also closed. I haven't talked to its owner, Sue, yet to find out what happened, but you know my conclusion: we have to patronize our local restaurants! These small businesses are where all the good stuff is, and they are so vital to our local economy. Just say no to chains, people. Please unchain your tastebuds and give mom and pop restaurants top billing when you're choosing where to eat!

My personality is big; my hunger is bigger!

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